Home  »  English Poetry I  »  288. Ode on the Spring

English Poetry I: From Chaucer to Gray.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Thomas Gray

288. Ode on the Spring

LO! where the rosy-bosom’d Hours,

Fair Venus’ train, appear,

Disclose the long-expecting flowers

And wake the purple year!

The Attic warbler pours her throat

Responsive to the cuckoo’s note,

The untaught harmony of Spring:

While, whispering pleasure as they fly,

Cool Zephyrs thro’ the clear blue sky

Their gather’d fragrance fling.

Where’er the oak’s thick branches stretch

A broader, browner shade,

Where’er the rude and moss-grown beech

O’er-canopies the glade,

Beside some water’s rushy brink

With me the Muse shall sit, and think

(At ease reclined in rustic state)

How vain the ardour of the Crowd,

How low, how little are the Proud,

How indigent the Great!

Still is the toiling hand of Care;

The panting herds repose:

Yet hark, how thro’ the peopled air

The busy murmur glows!

The insect youth are on the wing,

Eager to taste the honied spring

And float amid the liquid noon:

Some lightly o’er the current skim,

Some show their gaily-gilded trim

Quick-glancing to the sun.

To Contemplation’s sober eye

Such is the race of Man:

And they that creep, and they that fly

Shall end where they began.

Alike the busy and the gay

But flutter thro’ life’s little day,

In Fortune’s varying colours drest:

Brush’d by the hand of rough Mischance,

Or chill’d by Age, their airy dance

They leave, in dust to rest.

Methinks I hear in accents low

The sportive kind reply:

Poor moralist! and what art thou?

A solitary fly!

Thy joys no glittering female meets,

No hive hast thou of hoarded sweets,

No painted plumage to display:

On hasty wings thy youth is flown;

Thy sun is set, thy spring is gone—

We frolic while ’tis May.